Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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June 12, 2020

3 Ways to Share Your Writing With Traditional Publishers

by Kris Maze

Whether you are an indie writer looking at new markets or a newbie building up a writing portfolio, consider trying these ways to get traditionally published. What will be your next steps with your work?

3 Methods to Share YOUR Work in 2020

1. Identify agents or publishers who best fit your project

Some tips:

  • Read agent bios using online databases like AgentQuery.com or Querytracker.net to find those who represent (rep) your genre. Most editors and agents are very specific about what they want in their inbox. Pro tip: Extra research here can give you an edge as you demonstrate how your work fulfills their needs. Make a list of 5-10 you want to focus on.
  • Look up books these agents rep and find similarities that might make them interested in your work. Let them know why they should consider your book? Pro tip: This helps you identify comparison (comp) books to include in your query letters as well.
  • Verify what these industry professionals want by visiting their social media feeds. Manuscript Wish List or #MSWL is a useful handle on Twitter.  This is where agents and editors request what they want to come across their desk.  Does your work fit an editor’s description? How does your book compare to the other works an agent represents? Pro tip: Be honest about your writing and find someone who represents other books like yours.
  • Narrow your list to 5 or less and keep the others as a backup.  No one likes to be a part of a long list of spam.  Revise your query letters, tailored to each agent or editor. Pro tip: Be sure to follow their specifications for submissions exactly.  Let them know you are paying attention and would be a good author to work with.

2. Submit to contests, blogs, web content, and journals

Using contests, journals, and blogs remains an excellent way to build a writer's portfolio. There are many venues to get your work published.  It is a competitive field, so get in the mindset of producing your best work before sending it out.  Follow the steps of good editing and use beta readers. Revising your work both sharpens your craft and builds your reputation as an author. Submitting your work can get you noticed.  Where do you find these opportunities?

Writers use many databases to gain insight into the publishing market. Here are a few favorites to try:

Duotrope has been popular database of writing opportunities for years, but currently only offers a 7-day free trial followed by a $5.00 per month fee.  They also have a discounted rate if you pay $50 for the year.

Submission Grinder is a free database that focuses on fiction and poetry.  They keep track of statistics on how many submissions, rejections, and accepted work a publisher has in the market.  They also track the amounts paid for work. They do not include nonfiction.

Submittable has many features to enable easier searches and has a clean interface.  Writers make an account first, but access to the variety of open submissions inside makes it worth it. Like a one-stop shop, you can search opportunities and enter your projects all in one place. Free for writers, the publishers may ask for a reasonable $3 to cover their costs when submitting work.

The Discover feature allows you to research the market by genre, key words, due date, writing type, or whether contests require a fee. Writers can follow certain publishers, track opportunities, or discover new ones.  The default feature includes only what you search for in order by most recent due date.

Submittable has a handy dashboard that tracks your entries.  Writers see their submissions as ‘in progress’, ‘accepted’ or ‘declined’ over time. This may help you expand into other areas or identify other markets for your work. When sending out work to multiple publishers, this site helps keep your process organized.

3. Join a newsletter that does the research for you.

A couple of writer newsletters I like are Authors Publish and Freedom with Writing.

These newsletters create lists of opportunities by genre, topic, or special interest. They link submission pages, websites, and their research on the publisher’s history and pay structure. Oftentimes opportunities are from various regions around the world and cover a wide variety of topics.

They tend to send their newsletters with writing deadlines within the month.  I find these prompt me to revise short stories as I often have something in the hopper I can polish up when the right genre passes by. Searching the market often inspires me to write more as I learn about potential publishers. Consider using deadlines as a motivation for yourself.

Authors Publish offers books on writing advice and curated publishers for certain writing types. Their books have a paid and free option. The publishers are usually open to new unagented writers and do not charge entry fees.

 How could you use contests and open submissions to build your portfolio?  Are the projects you started during the pandemic of 2020 a treasure trove waiting to be mined?  Pull out those projects and see where you can place them today.

Get your work out there!  Submit online and stay a safe social distance. Take these steps and realize your writing goals.  You could make someone's day or help them escape the doldrums with your story!

Have you had success with writing for a publication or won a contest? Brag or make a suggestion for our readers in the comments.

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About Kris

Kris Maze has worked in education for 25  years and writes for various publications including Practical Advice for Teachers of Heritage Learners of Spanish and Writers in the Storm. Her first YA Science fiction book, IMPACT, arrives in June 2020 and is published through Aurelia Leo.

Keep up with the latest stories from Kris Maze along with author events at her website. A recovering grammarian and hopeless wanderer, Kris enjoys reading, playing violin and piano, and spending time outdoors with her family. She also ponders the wisdom of Bob Ross.  

Set in post-pandemic Wind City, a young journalist races time as an incoming asteroid with certain destruction. Nala Nightingale must decide between broadcasting the news of a lifetime or discovering keys to her orphaned past.

Trapped underground with a mysterious scientist named Edison and his chess master AI, can Nala Nightingale find the will to live and to love in a dystopian future?

To find out more about IMPACT, click here.

TOP PHOTO by Image by ArtTower from Pixabay 

22 comments on “3 Ways to Share Your Writing With Traditional Publishers”

    1. Absolutely, this little list is meant to be a motivation tool. At least I can always browse for new places to put my work and discover new markets.

  1. Been on a submitting-break for a while now.

    The contest thing can be trying! Especially since most charge fees and have such complex submission rules. Also, seeing rejections pile up on Submittable can get to a person...

    I think it's best to only submit when you think you're work will really fit in with the aesthetic being looked for...that way, you actually have a shot!

    1. Hi Lisa,
      I agree the 'declined' button can be daunting, but if I can confess... my Submittable list ALL declines at the moment. BUT I have gotten recommendations from publishers who didn't find my work was right for them. I can say too, that the feed back some of these editors has given me insights that have improved my submission process. I've even had my work handed off to someone looking for the type of writing I was doing.

      Finding the right fit is important. It can be off putting if an author sends a completely random piece of writing to a publisher. It's like completely disregarding the publisher's work to find the right piece for their publication. It's a little way to show you're a great author to work with when you simply read their instructions.

      Best of luck in finding more homes for your written work!

  2. The timing of your article is incredible! I am in the process of querying now. I'm using Query Tracker and am so glad for this as one of the agents I planned to send to is currently not accepting queries.

    These resources are great. I will definitely check Submittable.

    1. Hi Ellen!
      The resources are here to inspire and browse new opportunities for writing. I found that after spending so much time on one novel, that taking a small story challenge was freeing. I would find a contest that seemed interesting and try to write a new story to fit it. Then I could go back to my previous work with new eyes.
      I'm glad the article helped!

    1. Thank you, Colleen!
      The cover is pretty striking, I agree. 🙂
      I'm glad to have others at Aurelia Leo (my publisher) who worked on that. It takes a tribe of creatives to make a successful publication.

  3. This may be the kick in the pants I need to pull out some of my short stories and get them polished up and get them submitted.

    1. Good idea, Bob! You have had success with short stories... it may lead to other ways to market them!

    1. I hope these can lead you to finding new ways to share your writing, Muskan. What kind of writing do you write most?

        1. I appreciate the lyric quality and precision of poetry, but find it hard to pull off myself! It sounds like you have a few types of writing to publish. Best of luck in placing your work.

    1. Hi Karen,
      Thanks for the compliment. I agree that I try to find opportunities that allow for multiple submissions.
      It seems like it is fairly accepted that if your work is accepted somewhere else that you notify the other places you submitted. Because writers expect a high rate of rejections, it really isn't fair to tie up someone's work for months. Some contests and publishers don't want simultaneous submissions, and if that is where you feel is the best place for your work, then follow their guidelines.
      In general, I use these contests on a new or revised work that I want to push out, then I move on to another smaller work. It keeps me working on something new while I wait. Great question!

    1. Thank you, Tiffany! I hope they find these suggestions useful and appreciate the share.

  4. I won runner-up in a writing contest and was published internationally in an anthology from the entry. The book won several awards.


    1. Hi Denise,
      That's great news! I hear great things about being a part of an anthology as it helps build a portfolio and recognition. Congratulations!

  5. Thank you, Kris. I have been fiddling around with a manuscript, waiting on a couple of local South African publishers and an agent, and had no idea where to go from here. Now I do! Hopefully I can find my project a home.

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